31 August 2011

Youngblood Brass Band - New Blood

Well, it is apologies time again.  Whole bunch of reasons and nobody cares!

However, I have been listening to a lot of podcasts from the Edinburgh Fringe festival instead of music on the way into work for a few weeks, so music took a little break.

However, had a nice break with the Mez clan and was dutifully informed that I should get back to writing.  Or else.

I come back to this and the 'writing' interface has all changed - I hope I can make it at least seem similar to before.  So.... what was todays Track 23?  Not this track, but this band.... and the track below is more than a fair representation of them.
As I pointed out to Mr Mez whilst carefully putting myself outside a bottle of red in the bar of the hotel - everything is better with horns. Just think about Beyonce.  Without a horn section she is just a particularly pleasant wobbly bottom.  But how do you describe these chaps? Hip Hop Brass? Jazz?  Well sort of.

They have had rappers in the group (Skogen and DJ Skooly) as well as rather touching performances from Ike Willis in the past.

Music wise, they certainly are quite "New Orleans" in the fact that there is a lot of them playing horns, jazz in their breaks, but particularly with this track - listen to the Tuba.  It takes sole charge of the bass line, with short stabbing notes, like a bass player plucking at his strings.

What other tracks are worth listening to?

MARCH!!!! Now that is a track worth turning the volume up for.  A nice soft increase in urgency from all the instruments until it punches through the back of the speakers, in a style reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine, then reduces down to a softer backing for the New York poet style lyrics.

But it isn't just noise that they are capable of - listen to what happened when Zappa favourite Ike Willis joined them....
A lot more mellow, but with the same hip hop ethos towards timing and attack.  They have released a couple of great albums, nothing recently though.  In fact, little bro just called in the middle of me writing and asked "what are you upto?".  "Oh just writing about Youngblood Brass Band" - I said this wishing to appear hip, naming a band he had never heard of.... "Oh yeah, seen them twice".  Trendy git.  They have spent their time touring, and building their name up.  As they should.

Everything is better with horns and seeing as these guys all play horns, they must be great.

17 August 2011

The White Stripes - Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

OK - admission time first of all.

Don't worry, it was the 23rd Track today, it's just that for absolutely years I didn't like the White Stripes.....

This, the first track from the album White Blood Cells, is the first piece of evidence against me....

A great Michel Gondry video as well, and yet still, even with that I didn't like it when it came out in 2001.
Why the hell not?

A couple of reasons, firstly how bloody pretentious are they?
"Lets all wear red, white and black" - gits.
They recorded the album in 2 weeks using original 1960's studio equipment.  Why?  This is 2001 for Pete's sake, even 10 years ago an Apple Mac would have given a better quality of recording and you could spend as long as you like over it.
There is only 2 of us - Guitar and drums, we don't need a bass player!
We are Brother and Sister, no, wait we are married, no wait, we were married.

Why try so hard?

They were trendy as all heck and everybody loved them, even King John Peel.

So I tried listening to an album, but had decided from the word "Go" I wasn't going to like them.  Just from first principles. If you are going to spend that much time caring about your image, you aren't going to have a hell of a lot of substance.

Guess who was wrong again?

Unfortunately it probably wasn't until I heard that awful Cornish girls version of "Fell in love with a girl" that I realised that they could write songs.  As an aside, I first heard Joss Stone on a copied CD, with a B&W photocopied cover.  I thought, from her voice, she was an astounding great lost black vocalist from the Southern States, probably in her 60's.  It is the first and only time I have been disappointed by a blonde teenage girl. She shouldn't have that voice, it is wrong.

So, in retrospect, can they write songs? Yes
Are they all good? Nope.
Are they, at times, overly simple?  Yes, but simple is good.
Is Meg White the best drummer in the world?  No.  She is probably the best drummer the White Stripes will ever need though.
Is Jack White a guitar god? No.

Which brings me to a weird thing.  I spend too much time thinking about guitars, technique, and all of that artistry bumpf.  You don't need to be a great technical guitarist to write a song. You just need to be able to write a song.

And this is a rather good one.  In my book, 3 or 4 stars, but is has taken me 10 years to appreciate it.

16 August 2011

Guided by Voices - Teenage FBI

Great - another Guided by Voices track as the 23rd track today.  Seeing as I have decided to start drinking for my birthday, I may well have had a couple of beers before starting to write today.

In many ways that is just how Robert Pollard has worked for many years, on and off stage.

Christ, it looks like F Murray Abrams on guitar, doesn't it?

What a great song and what a great band - that particular ditty became popular thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer - it was in the show and on the 'soundtrack' album.  I have to admit, it is where I was first introduced to Guided by Voices, as I had hunted down that particular  CD for a rare Breeders track.

What a find - honestly go out and buy their greatest hits album (Human amusements at hourly rates) if you like the joy of good songwriting, but also don't care about having top quality recordings or full songs.  What do I mean?

Throughout their career they kept everything lo-fi - just listen to the original recording of todays tune....
One minute thirty six dead.  Half the length of the first video - to other bands that would be considered a demo - not to GBV.  That puppy was sent off and pressed - final version....  Nice.  A bit of honesty, rather than faking another unnecessary verse in there and slowing it down.

Robert Pollard seems to be a little impatient, with not only the lineup changing fairly regularly, but what can only be described as a prolific cannon of work being produced - over 1,300 registered songs with the BMI just from him.  Live shows were supposedly fantastic affairs - lasting over 3 hours, 60 odd songs being played and alcohol being drunk continuously.  Obviously they broke up - all bands I like have...

Although they did reform briefly in 2010 and Robert Pollard is still continuously writing even more material....

15 August 2011

Marlena Shaw - Woman of the Ghetto

Superbly sampled time and time again
Back again. A week off and back to work.
There-fore I once again need the sweet release of something with a bit of soul in it  - and you can't get a lot more soul than the 23rd Track today - Marlena Shaw...

Sometimes there is a voice, or an instrumentalist with such unforgiving talent that I would pay to hear them read their shopping lists.  Marlena Shaw has that passion and feel, and doesn't really start singing until 1:30 of the track above, so my wish was almost granted.

This track was originally recorded on her Second album in 1969 and was a bit of a departure, citing 'topical' issues of the time.  This live version is a bit later but you will know it from its rather cute sampling by Scottish one-hit-wonder "Blue Boy" - Remember me.
You know, I don't remember it being that harsh and sample heavy. Odd that your memory can be changed over time, particularly by listening to the original more than that version.
Memory reminds me that that god awful DJ Chris Evans used to play bits of it all the time because it sounded like she was singing "Gin Gin Gin Ginger".  Twat.

Now Marlena Shaw's other big hit was California Soul - also sampled the crap out of, by DJ Shadow and many others, but lets listen to the original 69 version...

Some great sounds on there, a little more pop based than the live version, including some rather odd sounding organ stings, a bit like it was fed through a Wah-Wah pedal (3.25). Quite striking and not sentimental in the least.

The live version slows it down a fair bit and plays off the Soul aspect in a measurable way, but for me that is something that can be done quite happily with her voice.

Who was she?  A singer, not the best known today, but the first female vocalist to sign with the Blue Note label, also recorded for Chess, Cadet, Verve, and Columbia labels.  Not too shabby.

She is still singing, and has a credible career today, in no short amount due to being sampled and having her tunes used in adverts.  So not everything to do with marketing is shitty and soulless.

05 August 2011

Senor Fruity Pants and the Men From Del Monte

Well, here it is.  The real reason why nothing has been written for a week.  This rather fabulous presentation......

Heavens above....

Senor Fruity Pants and the Men From Del Monte featuring a guest appearance from two members of international award winners Frank Chickens.

My own little brother pointed out with great joy "The end song - it's that Woo Hoo one, but you turned it into Ren and Stimpy - Ha ha ha - Brilliant".

To see what he means - here is the 5,6,7,8's performing "Woo Hoo"

And the Ren and Stimpy Theme.... a bit of class...